A groundbreaking investigation carried out by the BBC’s African Eye has uncovered hidden atrocities, including sexual crimes, allegedly committed by the late Nigerian Pastor, Temitope Balogun Joshua, famously known as TB Joshua.
TB Joshua, who died in 2021, was among the world’s most renowned televangelists and was the founder of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), based in Lagos, Nigeria.
He earned international fame due to his evangelism, charity and works of healing and deliverance. However, the celebrated preacher appears to have been living a double life.
In a three-part investigation titled, “Disciples: The Cult of TB Joshua,” the BBC features an array of eyewitness accounts from former close associates of TB Joshua, “disciples”, from Nigeria, Britain, Namibia, US, South Africa, Ghana, and Germany.
The former “disciples” testified to alleged abuses of rape, torture, occultic practices and the use of fake miracles by TB Joshua.
Based on the testimonies, Joshua sexually abused hundreds of women and young girls in a period spanning close to 20 years at SCOAN.
He guarded the secrets and atrocities with lies and threats of death.
Rae revealed that she was 21 when she abandoned her degree programme at Brighton University in 2002 to be recruited at the SCOAN.
This was after she was deceived into believing that TB Joshua was a genuine man of God who could deliver her from lesbianism.
After spending 12 years at the synagogue, she said nothing changed.
Rather, she and other ”disciples” were subject to cruel treatment, which she likened to being in hell.
Rae said the disciples were the closest people to the late televangelist and lived with him in his exclusive quarters, a concreted-storey building in Lagos.
Made up of mostly young men and women, they attended to his personal needs, ran all sorts of errands for him, coordinated miracle and prayer sessions at SCOAN and protected his public image.
They also had very little interaction with the outside world, with some of them saying they were forced to live within the SCOAN premises for several years without going out.
VICTIMS OF RAPE
Some of the interviewees alleged he raped them multiple times and forced them to commit abortions to cover up pregnancies.
Among them was Jessica Kaimu, who revealed that she stayed at SCOAN and was abused for more than half a decade.
She said she was 17 when TB Joshua first raped her and a series of rape instances caused her to have five forced abortions while there.
Another victim, who also says she was forced to commit abortion, recounted:
“I have committed three abortions during my 14 years of staying at the synagogue. We were taken into this secret room in the medical department, where we would either be given concoctions to drink to evacuate the baby or things inserted into our private to remove whatever thing was inside. And at times you do not even know if it’s your womb they are removing. At times some even almost lost their lives during the abortion process,” she said.
Another rape victim said she initially considered TB Joshua as a father because he appeared very gentle and kind to people.
“The first time I met him, he looked loving and kind, not knowing that behind that was a sadist, a psychopath,” she said.
“And I wanted to be connected to God. That’s why I stayed there and kept trying my very best.”
Another victim recounted how she was administered cruel treatment but was forced to bear it because it came from a “man of God”.
“The God I was introduced to is evil and diabolic. Because it was the same god that will beat us up, that will maltreat us, that will torture, manipulate and rape us. You have no idea of what I went through,” she said.
The victims’ testimonies may be hard to believe for the millions of TB Joshua followers littered across Nigeria, Africa, and the world.
To them, these might just be a planned attempt to rubbish the work of the great preacher.
TB Joshua was widely known not just as a preacher, but as a miracle worker. His Church was constantly visited by people from all over the world who were afflicted by a myriad of physical and spiritual illnesses, hoping to get healed.
Joshua appeared to be instantly healing and delivering people in the television image that the Synagogue Church of All Nations presented.
On Emmanuel TV, his widely watched television, people who manifested signs of demon possession were instantly healed, and seemingly crippled, blind, deaf, and dumb people were also healed instantly.
However multiple first-hand accounts from his close disciples suggest that these miracles were all faked and broadcast to millions of people around the world.
The former disciples all corroborated allegations from one another that TB Joshua manipulated people to exaggerate their problems to get healed and then exaggerate their healing to perfect it.
People spent time at the SCOAN emergency unit which physically treated their wounds and health problems, and then they were asked to come up and testify that they were healed instantly.
BASTARD DAUGHTER ALSO SPEAKS UP
Another part of the investigation delved into how TB Joshua maltreated and ostracised the daughter he had out of wedlock.
Ajoke, as she is called, now 28 years old, was seen by many enslaved disciples as a hero because she was the only one who dared confront the late Joshua, despite being brutally tortured, maltreated and termed demon-possessed.
She told the BBC that, at one time, she faced her father about allegations of sexual abuse but was subsequently thrown out of the church empty and wretched.
“The disciples dragged me out of the office,” she said, narrating the day she confronted her father.
“Put me in a room and isolate me from the rest of the church. I wonder how I lived through that time because they were hitting me with belts, chains, etc. I couldn’t take a shower for days. He was trying so hard to stop people from listening to me. He felt threatened by the fact that I knew what was happening.”
With no family to call her own and no money, she roamed the streets of Lagos alone and wretched while her father splashed millions of naira as gifts and donations to the poor.
She narrated how she was isolated and indoctrinated. Ajoke said she contemplated suicide.
Other interviewees told the BBC that they were tortured with horse whips and cables and also denied sleep many times.
DECEPTION SURROUNDING BUILDING COLLAPSE
On September 12, 2014, a guest house belonging to TB Joshua’s SCOAN collapsed, killing 116 persons, most of them South Africans.
Among the many victims was Sonny’s daughter, Sibongile Princess. Sonny said she is still yearning for justice for her daughter 10 years after.
“My daughter Sibongile Princess, died on her first trip to the synagogue. She was looking forward to being there, just like everyone else that you see on TV. She still has her favourite teddy bear in her room, which she had asked her siblings to keep for her. She was such a perfectionist,” Sonny told the BBC.
“We all saw the miracles every day on television, and we thought that this could only be the hand of God.“However, on September 12, when I heard the news of the collapse, I tried to call my daughter tried to send an SMS but there was no response.
The narrative TB Joshua and SCOAN sent out was that the building had been shot at by an aircraft, but a Nigerian police investigation later said the collapse was due to poor construction.
Former SCOAN disciples who spoke to the BBC brushed out the aircraft story fed to the public as a total lie.
Emmanuel, one of the young men who served TB Joshua during that time, claimed the building had a structural defect and TB Joshua was aware of it but didn’t want people to know.
Rae, another former disciple, corroborated that the foundation of the building was inadequate for the floors built on it.
“They told us, ‘Don’t tell what you know,’” Emmanuel said.
“They knew something was wrong with the building, but they were managing it.”
SCOAN later paid the families of the victims cash as compensation, which they interpreted to be “hush money.”.
A church worker who was part of those who handed the money to victims’ families in South Africa said TB Joshua asked that she instruct the grieving families not to speak to the media.
Then, Joshua reportedly personally threatened families who refused the money.
“The building collapse is a good example of everyday life under TB Joshua. It is just a series of cover-ups. It was just that this was so big that it was almost impossible for him to make it go away,” Rae said.
The BBC documentary is an eye-opener to Africans and other people who might be secretly victimised by religious leaders and other personalities.
The Synagogue Church of All Nations, currently run by TB Joshua’s wife, has not reacted to the BBC’s findings.
They rather alluded to previous allegations against SCOAN and TB Joshua as being unfounded when the BBC contacted them for a comment.
The alleged atrocities of the late TB Joshua were reportedly overlooked by Nigerian authorities, including the police, who are alleged to have been “bought” by Joshua.
Kate Bih contributed to this report.